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Sailing: The Process of Becoming

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

Reese Pally wrote, sailors are never quite finished like a piece of toast or a steak, they are always in the process of becoming. I’m often asked if I’ve always been a sailor. No, I haven’t always been a sailor. In fact, there were many years when I dreaded being stuck on a sailing ship, when they didn’t move fast enough or in the right direction, when I had other things to do.

I became a sailor on the day my dad died and I found his journal…the one he kept when he sailed across the Atlantic. I finally found the woman I would leave you for, he wrote to my mother. He fell deeply in love with sea. The sea is a place of mystery and learning, inexplicable love and allure. She is the ultimate siren. She holds everything and keeps nothing, because to be present and aware of each moment, you can’t hold on to anything.

I am a sailor because it’s the closest I’ve ever come to my own heart.

I am a sailor because the sea tests me to within inches of my life and way beyond my comfort zone.

It’s the hardest and most beautiful thing I’ve ever done. It’s terrifying and humbling, incredible and occasionally boring.

I found my sailing ship abandoned in a yard in New York, and as I walked around and saw her nameless stern, I knew she’d been waiting for me. I was a soul looking for a new lover, and she was a ship longing for a name: Edelweiss.

As I prepped her to leave New York and head south, ol’ Whitey drove up in a beat old sedan. He stood there with his arms crossed lookin' at her for a long time. He finally said, she'll take you anywhere you wanna go and she'll take care of you in a storm, she can survive a knock-down. Those words still bring tears to my eyes.

She has taught me more than anything or anyone else. Ever. I've learned lessons of patience and commitment, neither of which I'm particularly good at. I've made so many mistakes, and she's still trying to teach me the lesson of thorough planning and doing it right the first time...dear god, I'm stubborn. Blood, sweat and tears have been spilled and fallen and shed on her decks and in her bilge and cabin. She and I? We've had to learn to trust each other. And, I do trust her, but more importantly I've learned to trust a captain and a woman and a human being.

Nothing brings me comfort like the salty air,

and the sun setting in the western sky,

sinking below the horizon as the night walks in.

Nothing feels as natural to me as wandering her decks in the twilight,

or feeling her tug and turn around the anchor…

Quiet and still, the sea and the sky reflections of each other.

The quietness and the stillness wrapping me up in presence.

Feeling safe and full,

Feeling the magic of just being alive, of contentment.

My hair feels better when it’s dirty.

My soul feels better when it’s salty.

My skin feels better when it’s sun-kissed and golden.

Sailing is everything, and with every passing ocean mile, with every storm, with every sunset, with every maneuver done right and every mistake gloriously made…I am becoming.

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